Before starting to eat, Hazel wriggled her bikini straps back up onto her shoulders and Mark was finally able to relax and look in her direction again. They ate in silence for a few minutes.
“Remind me what you’re studying at North Carolina State,” Hazel asked. “Are you a frat guy? Or a geek?”
“Am I allowed to be both?” Mark asked, taking a drink of his lemonade to wash down the bite of his burrito before completing his answer.
“No, trust me, you’re either one or the other,” she said. “And based on the way you freaked out when I exposed part of my chest, I’m guessing you’re a geek.”
“I’m studying geospatial analytics.” Mark waited for the jabs.
“See, you’re a geek.” Her assessment had been spot-on. “A really hot geek. But still a geek.”
“I’m not sure if that was meant to be a compliment or not, but I’ll take it.” Mark shoved the last bite of burrito in his mouth, realized his food had been the equivalent of an appetizer, and raised his hand to get the attention of the restaurant owner and held up a finger requesting another. “What about you? What are you studying?”
“I’m undecided,” she said with a dismissive tone.
“Just getting the basics out of the way?”
“Sure, you could look at it that way.”
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Mark asked.
“A princess.” She bit her lower lip in a teasing grin.
“Hey, I can help you out with that. I could be your tutor.”
“I’d have the hottest, geekiest tutor on the planet,” she said.
“With the most beautiful babies,” he teased right back.
“See, you totally understand.”
“Where do you want to live?”
“In a big house on a hill overlooking a waterfall.”
“I’ll start shopping for just the right hill, and you start shopping for a wedding dress.”
“Sounds like a plan.” She held up her paper cup of lemonade for a toast and then sipped through her straw.
Mark’s eyes were drawn to her lips, but he pushed the thought aside. If they ever had a first kiss, he wouldn’t let that be while his mouth tasted like burritos. There was plenty of time.
As if sensing the change in mood, Hazel said quietly, “Thanks for rescuing me. I thought my arms were going to rip out of their sockets.”
“No problem.” Mark’s voice was husky.
“You can go try again if you want. I don’t mind sitting here by myself.”
“I have the rest of my life to learn how to kiteboard. But I only have a few days of spring break with the undivided attention of the beautiful and feisty Hazel Marie Cohen.”
“How’d you learn my middle name?”
“I have connections.”
“I bet you do.”
“Wanna go for a walk on the beach with a hot, geeky prince?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
Mark stood and pulled out Hazel’s chair then took her hand confidently, and they casually strolled near the water for the rest of the afternoon, picking up seashells and planning their future.